The Title Nine Catalogue: a Rhapsody Book Club selection

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It’s been more than a week since we gathered in the salon, kittens, and I am ready to collapse into this chair and have someone—you, if you’re not too busy—bring me a vodka tonic.

Between helping Brioche and Tannery hang their little stockings on the mantle, and so much time in the studio with Mariah recording our Christmas album, it’s been very hectic. I never got to the bookstore to pick our read for the Rhapsody Book Club. Luckily, I did make it to the mailbox and found the Title Nine winter catalogue. Or should I say, 91 pages of “warm, wicking, washable, intergalactic…WOOLLY AWESOMENESS”?

Because that is what we have here, readers. There’s a copy of for each of you on the chaise lounge, and a stack of wool sweaters I felted by hand. The fit will be snug but you can virtually dip yourselves in the Bering Sea and not catch cold. Merry Christmas!

To begin my research on the Title Nine company, I googled “title IX” and was overwhelmed by information about this historic piece of legislation, which made it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of gender—a costly matter, it appears, if you are a state college in Louisiana. Such stories of sacrifice, bravery and leadership!

Now just a moment, I thought. This is all very interesting but where are the $80 Space Mittens? It appears that in my naivety, I had stumbled onto the Wikipedia page about the Title IX law—not the brave game-changers at the Title Nine clothing company, who help us celebrate equality with colorful, moisture wicking panties.

It goes to show you that a person must scrupulously check her on-line sources when writing a book report. There’s a lot of junk out there. Now, about those gladiator bras….

The marketeers at Title Nine are writing catalogue copy in the storied tradition of J. Peterman, but it’s less Lawrence-of-Arabia-in-a-bomber-jacket and more Charlotte, a T9 model and alleged real person who is “half-French and half-Kiwi,” loves Vegemite, and is pictured on page 5 wheeling an antique bicycle laden with Christmas gifts down a snow-covered hill.

Haven’t we all? In a Rebel Sweater in Bougainvillea for just $75?

These are tales of brave women—firefighters, pediatricians, file clerks, dog moms, pediatric nurses and—for serious, readers—an ariel acrobat.  These girls-next-door live fearlessly, because T9 has freed them from them demeaning limits, like pinchy bras and yoga pants with unflattering lines. More importantly, we see the ladies of T9 in ordinary—one would have to say almost cliché—moments of daily living, like the Wonder Woman Base Layer Hoody, which I think you’d better go see for yourself.

We’ll wait.

See?

It’s not the fact that she’s outside with nothing but her long johns and toilet paper for warmth, or that she appears to be levitating. It’s that the magazine in her hand is Vanity Fair. Credibility: blown!

* * * *

The clothes are nice, I’ll be the first to admit. I’ve even done the math to see how many days my children would need to go without lunch so I could have the outfit pictured on page 4: the Brrrrr Beanie with Sable Vest and Rebel Sweater, Bun Warmer Skirt, [yes you did read that correctly], Unexpected Boot and Smart Tights. A gorgeous little ensemble that comes to… let’s see, add the fifty to the forty and carry the six…$487 of rebellion, before tax and shipping.

Guess I’d better take an extra job as an acrobat.

There is a brisk market for well-made women’s athletic gear, and plenty who can afford it but trouble begins, for this reader, on page 8. While I love the Yeti Jacket and Wooly Bully Skirt, I think the T9 retailers stray a leeeetle way off from their core competencies when they offer us the Electra Snowshoe to top off the outfit. A quick write-up of the Electra is followed with this handy description of snowshoeing: “After about 50 yards, you’ll have the motion down—it’s just like running.”

May I offer an alternate perspective, from my own (single) snowshoeing experience? It is not like running. At all.

Snowshoeing is about as much like running as being dragged by the wrists from a bobsled pulled by sled dogs is like flying. But I don’t presume to walk in anyone else’s snowshoes. Go try it, if you must. We won’t stop you.

* * * *

I know what you’re saying: Rhapsody, it’s just a catalogue! Relax and enjoy the award-winning photography and in-depth character development! But can we discuss some of the product names, and colors? Some of them puzzle me.

For example, the Funky Fargo Hat.

What is happening with the plot line here? Is she taking a job on the Alaskan pipeline? Does the hat remind her of squirrels she skinned as a little girl? There’s something forced about it. On the other hand, I myself am a lot like a Cohen Brothers film, now that I think about it, and I’m flattered that Title Nine finally noticed and took the time to make a hat about it.

And the Walk the Line Skirt, p. 90, is available in Bittersweet and…. dear-oh-dear-oh-dear… Squid Ink. No, we can’t just call it purple. This isn’t Sears. And the obvious choices of “Tuscan eggplant” or “morning in Tahiti” are in use by Land’s End. Which leaves us with the cute and cuddly cephalopod. Nothing makes me feel prettier than wearing a skirt the color of a sea creature shitting itself.

Likewise, the Pesto Heather Socks seem an attempt to tell me something about myself, demographically. At least I think that’s what’s going on, unless these socks are actually hand-dyed in a mixture of olive oil, basil, pine nuts and aged Parmesan.

The socks do feel pointless without an Arugula Scarf, or a Shaved Truffle Glove.

* * * *

The full arc of the winter T9 catalogue cannot be understood until we talk about firewood. There’s just an awful lot of wood in this thing, being carried (page 7) and chopped (page 69) and pulled around in sleds (p. 81) and haphazardly thrown (p.82).

And whatever is going with this crazy lumberjack in the 48 Hours Pant. Rhapsody did not earn any badges in forestry, but I can tell you that this woman is almost certainly about to chop off her leg, and that would be a shame, because then she’ll never get full use of her Electra Snowshoes. (It’s just like hobbling.)

* * * *

Rhapsody was not born yesterday, readers. I can see that this catalogue is taking me on a journey– helping me become the kind of woman unafraid to “shred” on the slopes, or plunge myself head first into an ice cream vendor’s cooler (harder than it looks, I assure you).

There is, I can’t deny it, a kind of Everywoman quality to these images. I gasped in recognition at page 88: a woman standing—as I have stood a thousand times—in Kismet Car Coat and Incognito Cap, beside a metal cauldron in the snowy woods, head tossed back in laughter as she waves a lobster around with a pair of tongs.

Why no picture? Because my scanner is in flames, I just read a very compelling article on copyright laws, and I suspect the legal department at T9 is less devil-may-care than the copy editing team. You’ll just have to rely on your own memories of wintertime lobster boils.

* * * *

Before we wrap up today’s gathering, there is something here that I feel compelled to talk about: the Prerogative Long Sleeve. This sweater is meant to be a whimsical representation of what it’s like to be a woman—or Dorothy’s friend Scarecrow—making a decision.

The actual words printed on this garment are: “Yep. Nah. Maybe. Potentially. Not. Um. Perhaps. NO. YES!” Exactly what runs through my mind when I make important decisions, like whether to accept a marriage proposal, or exercise a call option on my G.E. stock.

Title Nine marketeers, listen: You can sell me squid ink on a dress. You can sell me pesto socks. I think, in a vulnerable moment, I might even buy the snowshoes, but if I want clothing that makes me, the wearer, a sandwich board of stupid, then I will go to Victoria’s Secret and get it monogrammed on a thong.

If a large enough number of women were to actually purchase this sweater and wear it around in broad daylight, I predict that Title IX will be repealed. By a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court. And Ruth Bader Ginsberg herself will write the opinion, because she will be so disgusted with all of us.

My point is this: borrow the words “Title Nine” and wear them like a magic cape if you want, but understand that this confers a little responsibility on you not to market poop like this and call it LIBERTY.

Yep? Nah? Maybe?

Yes.

* * *

I don’t mean to be critical, only helpful. I am, as some who know me and all who do not can attest, fair-minded. It is in that spirit that I share the following statistic, which I found on the Title Nine website. I do hope that Team T9 appreciates my even hand in reviewing their work, even if they are distracted by doing pull-ups together every Tuesday at 2:30, or trying to shatter the 8 min, 14 second office record for a wall sit, whatever that it.

Here’s the bold fact:

“Research suggests that girls who participate in sports are more likely to experience academic success and graduate from high school than those that do not play sports.”

Yes! And that is why I will get up at first light to take my daughter, Brioche, to a sports practice, particularly if she complains that she doesn’t like sports and begs to stay home and bake scones for her Barbie dolls. Put on those cleats! Your future is at stake!

In all seriousness, Team T9, I appreciate that you devoted a corner of your site, and a teeny bit of your profits, to women’s athletics, and even more appreciative to learn that all desks in the T9 office are on wheels (the better to shred those hallways!). But let’s talk after you’re done doing your 2:30 Tuesday chin-ups—it feels awkward for me to stand while all of you are hanging in the door frames with your legs peddling the air like that.

* * * *

Sadly, I don’t have the spare cash to buy anything but the Papergirl Beanie, after all the money I’ve spent on gifts for Brioche, and Tannery and my husband, Mr. Roboto (about whom, more in the New Year). I suppose I could just pull on a pair of pilly old sweatpants, one of Mr. Roboto’s Fruit of the Loom t-shirts and a cruddy but serviceable pair of sneakers and go exercising on down the street.  But what could that possibly be like?

Well, I tried it, readers, and do you know what? After about 50 yards, I got the motion down.

It’s just like running.

XO

-Rhapsody

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5 thoughts on “The Title Nine Catalogue: a Rhapsody Book Club selection

  1. i laughed out loud many times while reading this, and am begging you to do a send up of the Sundance catalog next.. especially Bob Redford’s greetings at the front of alternating issues…

  2. Pingback: The Rhapsody Failure Memoirs: Things I Feel Bad About, To Make You Feel Better | Rhapsody In Cool

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